Retransmission fees deliver flat Q1 at Media General


Media GeneralMedia General’s Q1 revenue was $73.9 million, down slightly from $74.2 million last year. Gross Political revenues took a big hit in Q1, at $507,000, compared with $6.2 million in the prior year. However, cable and satellite retransmission fees in the quarter increased 55% to $4.8 million. Excluding Political, revenues increased 6%.

Net loss in Q1 was $17.7 million, or 65 cents per share, compared with a net loss of $34.4 million, or $1.53 per share, in the prior year.

Said Media General President/CEO George Mahoney: “The increase in operating income in the first quarter reflected a 35% reduction in corporate and other expenses, as well as disciplined  expense management by our stations. After becoming a pure-play broadcaster last year, one of the significant, very early steps we took was to reduce the size of our corporate structure, which had been scaled to serve both newspapers and television stations. On the revenue side, the near absence of last year’s $6.2 million in Political revenues was mostly offset by higher Retransmission revenues, which have increased 55% so far this year, and Digital revenues increased 18%.”

He added, “Broadcast cash flow in the current quarter of $19.4 million exceeded by 19% broadcast cash flow in the prior odd-numbered year of 2011 of $16.4 million. Broadcast cash flow margin was 26% in the current quarter, compared with 25% in the 2011 first quarter. We are pleased to report this improved performance on two key metrics that Media General is focused on,” said Mr. Mahoney.

This year’s Political revenues were mainly generated from the congressional race in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District. As the year progresses, Media General expects to also benefit from the Virginia gubernatorial race and issues advertising in many markets. Media General continues to expect that gross Political revenues for the full year 2013 will be approximately $5 million.

Core local and national revenues, excluding the impact of Super Bowl revenues in both years, increased 1%. Super Bowl revenues on the company’s CBS-affiliated stations this year were $1.2 million and increased 33%, compared with the last time the Super Bowl aired on CBS in 2010. In 2012, the company’s Super Bowl revenues were $2.8 million on the company’s NBC stations, which are located in larger markets and typically generate higher revenues.

In Q1, local gross time sales were $41.6 million, compared with $42.3 million in the prior year.  National gross time sales were $20.6 million, compared with $21 million in the prior year.

Media General’s largest ad category, automotive, increased 2.4% over last year. Other major advertising categories that increased in the current year were restaurants, furniture, home improvement, financial institutions and grocery. Major advertising categories that showed declines in the first quarter included professional services, retail, telecommunications and entertainment. The Tampa ad market showed more softness than other markets in the quarter.